Training a new puppy is so important. Like kids, puppies do not come with “manners.” They have to be “civilized.” At minimum they need to know the basics of living in a household with humans and possibly other animals.
I recently got a new puppy… a delightful chocolate Lab named Charlie. And while I’ve been around dogs my entire life and have raised two other puppies, I know that the advice of dog training experts is always super helpful!
I’ve personally been lucky to have worked with a couple amazing dog trainers. And I highly recommend that for my friends, particularly if it’s their first time as a dog parent. A more affordable option is a group puppy class, which has the added benefit of socialization along with the training.
But I’ve also benefited enormously from some great Books about training. So as I got ready for Charlie to come to our house, I pulled out one of my favorite puppy training books that I had used in the past, then did some research to find the other gems.
Books vs. Videos
I can hear some of you groaning…. “Why books? There’s a ton of dog training videos on-line so why would I read a book?” Videos can be great, especially when you need to see a certain move. And most training books also have related videos available in one way or another.
But books do something unique. With videos, we’re often trying to watch the video and work with the dog at the same time. But it’s a lot to process. With a book, you have the luxury of sitting and thinking about the training routine for your puppy, reading about what works and why, with a lot of focus before you put the info to work.
For example, with The Art of Raising A Puppy by the Monks of New Skeet, the first chapters follow a pregnant mother through birth, then the first 8 weeks (or so) of the puppies’ lives. It’s a fair amount of reading before you get to the “advice,” but understanding this history really helps you work better with your puppy!
Puppy training can happen at any age
While puppy training books do contain some stuff that is primarily for puppies, like housebreaking, most of the principals, ideas and routines are also good for adult dogs. If you have an adult dog that hasn’t had much training, a puppy book can be a great resource. It’s simply not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
No one thing is right. Different methods, different people, different dogs
Dog training books are written by pet experts, veterinarians, and animal behaviorists. They have different philosophies and approaches. Some focus on overall issues of how to raise a puppy, some focus on specific behavioral problems, and some are specific to certain breeds.
Some lean more towards practical advice and structured programs – “do this now”. Others give more background in how a dog views the world. Some require more time than others.
There’s no one right teacher or method. Sample some and find what’s right for you and your puppy.
Here are my top 3 Favorite Puppy Training Books
The Art of Raising a Puppy by The Monks of New Skete
The Monks of New Skete have been raising and training dogs for over 30 years at their Cambridge, New York, monastery, and this volume – updated from the 1978 version – offers solid insights on dog training, behavior, grooming, feeding and a host of other topics. Whether discussing country, city or suburban dogs, the monks dispense good advice on humane care, such as admonishing owners to avoid "canine incarceration," leaving a dog confined alone for long periods of time.
While the book does contain many useful, tried-and-true techniques for obedience – stay, heel, down-stay, recall and the like – its unique value lies in the monks' insights and thoughts about the human-canine bond.
The monks maintain that concepts such as discipline and praise are more than merely a means to an end: they are extensions of a caring attitude and real communication with a canine companion. Without devolving into New Age psychobabble, the monks make philosophical and spiritual observations that no dog-lover could resist, and which just might make a convert of the uninitiated.
This newest edition of The Art of Raising a Puppy features new photographs throughout, along with updated chapters on play, crating, adopting dogs from shelters and rescue organizations, raising dogs in an urban environment, and the latest developments in canine health and canine behavioral theory.
Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz
I can get turned off by breathless marketing copy and celebrity PR. So I was somewhat skeptical when I first read about this book, and all the references to how the author had trained the Obama’s dog and two of Ted Kennedy’s dogs.
But never mind, Training the Best Dog Ever, is a book based on love and kindness and it features a program of positive reinforcement and no-fail techniques in an easy to follow sequence.
Training the Best Dog Ever relies on trust and treats, not choke collars; on bonding, not leash-yanking or reprimanding. The five-week training program takes only 10 to 20 minutes of practice a day and works both for puppies and for adult dogs that need to be trained out of bad habits. Illustrated with step-by-step photographs, the book covers hand-feeding; crate and potty training; and basic cues—sit, stay, come here—as well as more complex goals, such as bite inhibition and water safety. It shows how to avoid or correct typical behavior problems, including jumping, barking, and leash-pulling. Plus: how to make your dog comfortable in the world—a dog that knows how to behave in a vet’s office, is at ease around strangers, and more. In other words, the best dog ever.
How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond By Cesar Millan
Cesar can be somewhat of a controversial figure in dog training circles, and I’ve never watched his TV programs, but I’ve always found his advice in books and videos extremely sound and helpful.
For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home -- Millan, the renowned dog behavior expert, says, "Yes, you can raise the perfect dog!"
It all starts with the proper foundation in the early years. Cesar tells you some key things you need to know to create the best environment for a well-balanced dog in order to avoid behavior issues in the future, and shows you how to correct the most common behavior issues for young dogs.
Based on his own detailed experiences raising individual puppies from some of the most popular breeds, How to Raise the Perfect Dog is like having Cesar right beside you, as your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog from the first day of your life together.Packed with new information aimed specifically at the particular needs of puppies and adolescents,How to Raise the Perfect Dog answers all the most commonly asked questions and guides you towards a loving, satisfying life-long relationship with your best friend:
- What to expect from each stage of your puppy's development
- Quick and easy housebreaking
- The essentials of proper nutrition
- The importance of vaccinating–and of not over-vaccinating
- Creating perfect obedience from day one through rules, boundaries, and calm-assertive leadership
- How to avoid the most common mistakes owners make raising puppies and young dogs
- How to correct any issue before it becomes a problem
- Unique exercises and play to bring out the best in every breed